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My Second Child
This afternoon my husband and I were unpacking some of the boxes in our garage that have been there since our move last summer. (Yeah, Martha Stewart I'm not.) I came across a great find, my box of stuffed animals that I've carted from home to home over the last 34 29 years. T wasn't even trying to hide his frustration as I started to pull out my furry friends, exclaiming over each one. But then I found a stuffed animal that was truly special to me, Bunny. Bunny is, go figure, a rabbit. He is an 8 inch Steiff rabbit my mother's best friend gave me when I was a little girl. But Bunny isn't just any rabbit. He's special. He's not squishy or plush, in fact most of his fur has been rubbed off, but I still love him. I slept with him in my bed for years. I told him my secrets. I gave him my love. Then he sat in an honored place on my shelf until I moved out of my parent's home and I packed him away in a box.

I started to think about the stuffed animals my children have. What will be in their boxes of childhood memories when they grow up? Then I realized that at the young age of two, Hollis already has about 50 stuffed animals, ranging from the 5 Silly Monkeys to the ginormous bear I got him for his first Valentine's Day.(Um, yeah, he was 4 months old.) Holden, on the other hand, has 2 stuffed animals - a pretty white lamb he received for his christening and a stuffed frog that looks like Kermit dressed in drag. (Seriously. It's a frog dressed in a white t-shirt with hot pink sleeves and a heart on the chest. Goodbye, gender stereotypes!)

The disparity in my children's stuffed animals really gave me pause, and I even mentioned it to T. He too looked a bit chagrined to discover this obvious symptom of Second Child Syndrome. So once again I began mentally flagellating myself for my shortcomings as a mother. How on earth am I going to convince my children that I love them equally when they will undoubtedly look to their respective stuffed animal piles as a measure of my parental affection? This is exactly what I feared when T and I discovered we were having another baby. I didn't understand how I could possibly love another child as much as I adored Hillis. So now I have to constantly remind myself that yes, Hollis had more of my time. Hollis had two parents completely focused on his every move 24/7 after he was born. Hollis also had two completely neurotic type A parents who had no friggin clue what they were doing. Hollis was my first child.

But Holden has a mother who finally feels like she's figured out what the hell she's doing. (At least on days when I've had enough caffeine. Other days I realize that I still know nothing and never will.) Holden has a mother who doesn't necessarily have the time to watch his every sneeze and poop, but he has a mom who has finally accepted that she's happy with her choices in life and her career. Holden has a mom who doesn't need to put him in a blinding spotlight, agonizing over every developmental stage. Holden has a mom who has learned to live in the moment and enjoy her kids. Holden is my second child.

Holden may never realize what a blessing being the "second child" can be but, as a "first child" married to another "first child," I know it. Hollis had more of my time at the beginning of his life but Holden, Holden had more of my heart. And so this evening I went back to the box in the garage and I pulled out my Bunny. For Holden. My second child. My baby.



Blogger ExPatSW said...

And consequently, Holden will be more relaxed with himself at a much younger age. However, he will likely not be as driven to succeed as Hollis. We give our children different things because we are different people when we have them. Your boys will have many things in common with you and B but remember, that they have very different parents than you two had. I trust you and T to strike a balance with your two that many other parents don't....mainly because you are aware and look at these things. Many other parents either don't see them or, if they do, it's much further down the parenting path. BTW, I guess you realize what I'll be sending H2 for Christmas...and his birthday...and Easter...ad nauseum!

Blogger mad muthas said...

oh blimey - beating oneself up is sooo hard not to do. your family is just what it is - and agonizing over it only makes one person suffer - you! i see two beautiful, very loved children with a thoughtful, attentive mother. you see all the things you ever did wrong. why is it that being good enough isn't good enough any more? (i have my theories - but i'm too shy to divulge them, just yet ...)

Blogger PunditMom said...

Utlimately, your children will know that your love isn't measured by what material things they do or don't have. I know that may take a while, especially as our children can be inundadted with marketing messages no matter where they go, but they will know it when they're older and that will be the truly important thing.

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